Tablet PCs are failing to live up to their initial hype, according to the latest statistics from market watcher Canalys.
Although EMEA shipments for the second quarter of 2004 were up by 25 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2003, they were down by 12 per cent on Q1 2004.
Notebooks are still outshipping tablet PCs by more than 100 to 1, according to Canalys, and the firm claimed the ratio is showing no signs of decreasing. High prices and a lack of decent applications were cited as key barriers to success.
A Canalys survey of the channel in Q2 revealed that almost two-fifths of respondents thought lower prices would make the biggest difference to their sales of tablet PCs, with another third demanding more tablet-specific applications.
"There is a clear demand for increased workforce mobility," said Canalys vice-president Mike Welch.
"We are continuing to see it in the sales of notebooks, handhelds and smart phones. But the tablet PC is not riding that wave nearly as well as it should, particularly outside the US, where customer requirements - for example, in language recognition and country-specific vertical applications - are much more fragmented."
John Turner, business manager at distributor Midwich, said: "Tablet sales are slow compared with our overall laptop business. You require a definite need to justify getting one. Microsoft has not created the need for us to all move to these devices.
"When there was a lot of fanfare at the start we beefed up stocks, which took longer to sell than we thought once that excitement had died down. Sales have been steady since then, but not exciting."
Hewlett-Packard was the tablet market leader in Q2, with a 24.5 per cent share, but this figure was down slightly from a year ago (28 per cent) as Acer, Fujitsu Siemens and Toshiba all outpaced it in growth terms. Acer was second (23.5 per cent), followed by Fujitsu Siemens (17.4 per cent), Toshiba (17.2 per cent) and Panasonic (6.5 per cent).
The convertible/modular segment, which includes all products with built-in keyboards that can be removed or folded behind the screen, as well as be used like a regular notebook, represented about 80 per cent of all tablet shipments.
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